Friday, 30 August 2013

Materials and Techniques - 'The China Hutch'

Every Friday fortnight I am chatting with other creative types to learn about the techniques and materials that they use in their craft. Today, say "hello" to Michelle, a Melbourne-based artist who paints porcelain and bone china for her online store The China Hutch. Michelle is a fellow member of the Handmade Cooperative. She is going to tell us about the materials and techniques that she uses in the creation of her pieces.

Please tell us a little about yourself. 

My name is Michelle Yates. I paint on porcelain and bone china. I learnt the technique over 25 years ago at classes here in Essendon half a day a week on one of my days off from my job as a Neonatal Intensive Care nurse.

23 years ago I moved to the UK to be with my current husband and purchased a kiln there to allow me to continue to practice my painting – again in my off duty time. After 2 years in the UK, my husband was transferred to The Netherlands and my Dutch language was not good enough to enable me to work in a hospital. So painting porcelain became my escape from loneliness and being homesick! Eventually people learnt about what I was doing and started to ask me to paint pieces for them for themselves or as presents. I was invited to exhibit at fairs in the Hague and my business grew until I needed to work full time painting to keep up with demand. I returned to Australia 14 years ago and retired from nursing 2 years ago so have returned to focussing on my painting business again.

What materials and techniques do you like to use?  

I use on-glaze paints which come in powder form and need to be mixed with oils to a paste to apply them to the glazed porcelain or bone china. When kiln-fired to 820 degrees the glaze melts and the paint sinks into the glaze. When the porcelain cools, the paint is fused into the glaze.

I mainly use a pen and nib to sketch an outline onto the porcelain and fire that before beginning to apply colours. To achieve depth of colour, a piece can go into the kiln a number of times. Bone china is my favourite material as it is softer than porcelain and the paint sinks further into the glaze, whereas with porcelain it tends to sit closer to the surface.

What challenges have you faced in the creative process?

It is very time consuming to paint a piece of porcelain. Dust is a pest as it settles onto the paint and can leave marks in the paint when fired. Occasionally a piece will crack in the heat of the kiln or throw up black marks which means the object must be thrown away.

What drives you to create? 

I get inspiration from books, magazines, the net, (good old Google), vintage post cards, suggestions from other people, my head!! These hand painted porcelain and fine china items make great presents for babies birth, birthdays, Mother and Fathers Day.

All images have been provided by Michelle of The China Hutch.

Catch up on previous materials and techniques interviews. If you are interested in sharing your materials and techniques on this Blog, please contact me.

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